Anna Chicherova of Russia competes in the women's high jump final in Daegu (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Chicherova opens with 2.00m clearance in Chelyabinsk

Displaying strong early season form, World High Jump champion Anna Chicherova opened her 2012 campaign with a 2.00m clearance to highlight the Lukashevitch Memorial in Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Monday (9).

The effort was the best season opener for the 29-year-old since 2003 when she also began with a 2.00m clearance. Chicherova, also the reigning Olympic bronze medallist, reportedly had three close attempts at 2.05m, clearly putting her 2.04m indoor career best, which dates back to 2003, under threat this season.

"I’m very satisfied with Anna’s performance," said her coach Yevgeniy Zagorulko. "My pupil really did it very well. She is ready for the season and all of her three attempts at 2.05 were extremely promising. Anna failed only due to the fact that she is a real fighter and she is so eager to compete. But when she started to jump there wasn’t a single opponent left in the sector. No question, she’ll clear this height at the nearest international tournament."

The meeting, held in honour of two-time Russian national High Jump champion Yuriy Lukashevitch who hailed from this industrial city, also included the men's High Jump and both the men's and women's Pole Vault.

European champion Alexandr Shustov, who is also coached by Zagorulko, triumphed in the men's contest clearing 2.30m for the second consecutive meeting before bowing out at 2.36m.

Andrei Patrakov was second on the podium having cleared 2.26m. Ivan Iliychev was third on countback over two other jumpers at 2.23m.

Plenty of attention was focused on the Pole Vault sector where Dmitriy Starodubtsev had already cleared 5.90m this season and promised to try go - or to fly - higher. But unfortunately Starodubtsev wasn’t at his best today. He cleared 5.50m and decided to make an attempt at 5.70m - after missing at 5.60m - but failed. In the end he finished second to perennial rival Sergey Kucheryanu who cleared 5.60m.

In the women’s Pole vault Yekaterina Kalayzko gained the victory with the modest 4.20m effort.

Bolshova tallies 4746 in St. Petersburg

Meanwhile, Yekaterina Bolshova tallied an impressive 4746 points in the Pentathlon at the St. Petersburg Cup on 5 January. The 23-year-old improved her previous personal best by 390 points. Her results: 60m Hurdles 8.47; High Jump 1.88m; Shot Put 13.40m; Long Jump 6.32m; and 800m – 2:11.74.

Bolshova, who has been coached by Yuriy Ovchinnikov for the past two years, was a good high jumper, but is now steadily improving her results in other disciplines, for instance in the 60m hurdles. But her most spectacular improvement has come in the 800m which she bettered by more than five seconds.

Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF